Monday, September 22, 2008

Dystopia: Gentrification, Institutions of Learning, and Materialism.

Levi, Neda
English 312
September 22, 2008

So I sit, in Tarzana, south of Ventura Blvd, outside the steps of my teenage home, across the street from the other home that kept me sheltered for three years, five days a week, six hours a day, and I ponder upon my dire need to strike yet another moment of genius, a moment away from this debilitating bout of lyrical word impotence that Creative writing majors often seem to face. I sit outside these steps often because the spirits of my mother and I drinking tea on a sweet Saturday morning years ago, keep me in their prayers, and allow me to think rationally away from all the corruption I see before me. These adorable teenagers cross the street and talk uncontrollably fast on their cell phones…Wait a minute. I ask myself, “Cell phones? And these kids are only 13 years younger than me. So in 1995, when I was what they called a Scrub in the sixth grade, did my girlfriends and I have cell phones?”
I see this sweet angelic face caked in vanilla frosting, and upon second glance, I realize it's makeup gone horribly wrong. In 1995, the only girls wearing makeup were the stars of Clueless, not my 12-year-old companions. I then got to thinking on the topic of Clueless, and questioned myself, “Weren’t you and Nadia all about the knee highs, and argyle vests that Alicia Silverstone and Stacy Dash made popular?” All of a sudden, I felt the lyrical bout of impotence stop in its tracks and word vomit was about to pounce, or was it my lunch?
I am someone who deeply detests this country in terms of its materialistic, superficial flaw. I have come to realize that our institutions of learning, beginning at the elementary level, display quite a Dystopia, and in watching these kids, blinded by the infectious desire to want rather than need and how they begin to mean the same thing to them, the bigger scheme of things became apparent to me.

Last summer, this private construction company bought out the rights to demolish about 5 eateries, and 10 clothing stores, which had been in business on the southern corner of Yolanda and Ventura Blvd, since about 1990. In order to beautify Tarzana, and hopefully attract an influx of higher income families into it with its newfound beauty and riches, many of those business owners, who perhaps depended on their businesses profit for all of life’s necessities, had to be displaced without any contracts stating the renewal of their businesses. I worked at one of those stores, and I had found out that only about five of those businesses were cut a deal to have their property space remodeled and re-opened to the public with profits higher in volume than before the gentrification began, and the ones who were cut a deal were the ones who you knew, just by their appearances and their automobiles, could put thousandths upon thousandths of dollars up front for the positive future at hand for their companies.

This economic recession is utterly dystopic, and it has, to some big spenders, sparked the need to reestablish the lustrous city of Tarzana, and I hope that it does work out for my father’s sake, a contractor without any employment in the past eight months, and raise my homes value back up to its selling price or perhaps higher soon, but at the same time I feel that this improvement is only going to hinder the city more because they are planning to build 72 condominiums a top a Whole Foods Market. The fact that I live across the street from a middle school that clearly adds to traffic, upon the traffic I can foresee erupting by the 72 occupants, at the very least per house, and the “Organic Food” sanctuary, I can only fathom the interrupted rush to get down the two way street that leads directly on to Ventura Blvd, each and every morning.
The city of Tarzana does not need to be beautified. What is needed is a contractor with enough money and some heart, wishing and wanting to help with his monetary fortune, putting it towards aiding the world with compassion for those who have lost their homes and their jobs due to this recession. It all goes back to materialism.

Why do many people move further and further into the United States from California and New York? Simply to get to rural and suburban areas offering the same simplistic countryside, or farm life beauty though without the negative force and impact that the absolute necessity of money makes obligatory. I have come to realize that money does not bring happiness, and that was the only motto I stood firmly against for so long. All one needs in this life is food and shelter, and if wanting an education is something they strive for and if they still thrive on a life depended upon materialism, their success will allow them the means to bask in whatever their cold hard cash can by them. If only the people in power; government officials, money-makers, city-planners, and the official associates that established medical insurance eligibility cared enough to make a difference, allowing all human beings to start off on a solid foundation, evenly, then this world would be a much better place.

This situation reminds me of Orwell's 1984 and the how Julia spoke to Winston about what happened in room 101. Both her and him wished that their individual tortures were shifted upon the other, and these mutual acts of betrayal depict the truth in how the Party won their final psychological game. Despite her feelings for Winston, after the party sets them both free, Julia comes to an understanding that she knew, in order to come away from the party and their ties to corruption, she had to yearn for the torture that Winston would eventually come to face. In the end, the party proves to both Julia and Winston that the physical pain that one endures and the fear that comes with it, will always lead someone to betray what they strongly believe to have been true. This reminds me of the ones who are facing this economic recession without feeling slightly effected by any of it, whether it be the loss of their businesses, profits, depreciation in the values of their personal estates, and etc. These contractors can rack up millions of dollars by building more grocery and retail stores to vamp up the rich side of the boulevard, but what about the traffic that they are funding to cause with the 72 townhomes they are building right next to a one way street, near a public school, above what has become the holistic utopia of a food chain for New Age Hippies? What about all the lower incomed families who could benefit from the money that these rich folk probably see as nothing more than chump change? These rich people want to get richer, while the idea of people becoming poorer still breathes life and lives idly by beside them, just waiting and hoping for that day when these money hungry, social tycoons decide to look into their hearts and away from the hollow pit of the utter riches that they disgustingly inhabit, and give them a handout or to convey that long-awaited moment of important awareness towards them, that they have been waiting for for centuries already.